South African Invitation XI v Indians, Benoni

Weather ruins India's only practice game

Sidharth Monga in Benoni

December 13, 2013

Comments: 35 | Text size: A | A

Groundsmen work on the pitch before the tour match, Benoni, December 12, 2013
The ground staff at Benoni erected a tent and worked through heavy rain to prepare the pitch for the tour game © Brendon Frost

India's only practice match on this pocket-sized tour of South Africa has been called off on a warm and sunny day. Benoni has received more than 800mm rain over the last three weeks, which resulted in an unusually high water table, adding to the woes of one of the slower draining grounds in South Africa. Although the pitch was ready on the morning of the match, there were a few wet patches on the outfield. The first day's play was called off early in the morning but, later in the afternoon, the groundstaff indicated it was not possible to get the ground ready for the second day either.

Willowmoore Park in Benoni raced against time to get ready for the match, which was moved a day forward to avoid a clash with former president Nelson Mandela's funeral. However, a storm on the eve of the game put paid to the efforts of the groundsmen, who had erected a tent to prepare the pitch even as it rained.

If India were peeved they couldn't play despite warm sunshine, they didn't show it. They practised hard with Duncan Fletcher looking over the slips-catching practice before the batsmen moved into the net. Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja didn't bat for long, which could be a sign - albeit it's early to be looking for them - that India might play Ajinkya Rahane as the specialist batsman at Wanderers where the first Test will begin on the 18th.

The Indian team management seemed to be quite understanding of the situation. The last few weeks have brought unexpected rainfall to the Highveld. Short and sharp showers are the usual fare here, but this summer has brought less intense but more persistent rainfall to the region. The fate of the Benoni game was the subject of speculation even when the third ODI was on, but it couldn't have been easy to move an international team to another small venue given all the security requirements. It is not known if India asked for a change of venue or if CSA offered it.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (December 14, 2013, 18:38 GMT)

Friends, why are you shouting so -vely for India ? It is but natural for every player a bit struggle in overseas condition. Evrybody is watching what Englad & WI are struggling the same way. WI won easily with the same opponents in their home series & same happened in last ashes in England. Can anybody predict De Cock will perform same in India againnst same Ashwin & Jadeja ? What happened to Steyn in last IPL when his countryman Devilliers hit 27 runs in one over for RCB ? So what India is having hard time is a just part of the game. I m sure, Our heros Shikhar, Virat & Rohit must be working hard for test series. In ODIs definately nobody among these 3, threw their wickets or scared of bouncers of SA bowlere. Its only lack of practice games which should have been there before ODIs. This is very important series for Rohit, Shikhar & Virat. They are the three young pillers of our Indian batting. We should support them instead of only critisism. In tests India will do better. Best wishes

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (December 14, 2013, 16:29 GMT)

What a pathetic ground with horrible drainage. Time for South Africa to update their little old grounds.

Posted by ADARSH100 on (December 14, 2013, 14:43 GMT)

It was really a disappointing performance by India in ODIs seeing the way they lost against SA. The only satisfied performance was frm Ishanth, Dhoni and Shami. Raina was also OK. There is no need of pointing out saying that "India is a weak unit outside sub-continent, Dhoni is not a good captain, Go Raina Go, India is a flat truck bully". Right now India is the best team in ODI without a doubt. Only concern is their fast bowling dept. If Indian tracks are best for batting then why didnot Australian bowlers contain Indian batting? How could India win in Champions Trophy and Tri-series?

In tests South Africa is the best. Its good and satisfactory if Indians can manage a draw against them in their homesoil thinking India's inexperienced players.

India's playing 11 : Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli, Rohit, Dhoni, Ashwin, Bhuvaneshwar, Zaheer, Shami, Ishanth. I feel India shd go with 4 fasters. Bhuvi is India's Philander. Zaheer and Ishanth fr their xperience, Shami fr his gud form.

Posted by Unomaas on (December 14, 2013, 12:22 GMT)

The stats of the SA invitation pace men:

BE Hendricks Avge: 20.51 SR: 37.4 D Paterson Avge: 20.91 SR: 38.7 E Leie Avge: 24.89 SR: 41.4 H Viljoen Avge: 26.13 SR: 42.8 C Dry Ave: 27.76 SR: 48.8

Mohamed Shami is the only Indian pacer that comes close to these stats. Man for man, these pacers are better than their Indian counterparts (and they are still evolving) and most of them would walk into the starting lineup of teams such as ZIM, WI, NZ, Eng, Ind, Bang. If they are that good, does it not confirm the exellence of the SA test bowlers?

Rather than seeing the washout as a negative, if I was an Indian fan, I would see it as a opportunity not to be embarrassed or even worse yet, humiliated by the B team.

These SA pacers are good, but with the added motivation of trying to secure a berth in the future test team as well as the of field animosity that has been brewing between CSA and BCCI, you can bet that these guys would have been pumped up and motivated to prove a point!

Posted by eshwarmv on (December 14, 2013, 11:38 GMT)

This short series will be a big test for the two most promising batsmen - Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Pujara has already shown that he can bat long periods and also consistently. Kohli hasn't been as prolific as he has been in the ODI format. Back to back test hundreds away from home must be his immediate goal. Rohit Sharma, the most gifted batsmen of the current lot does not have the defence that is required. At this stage of his career, he is similar to laxman, very lazy, and loose at times. If both can click in this series, then India may end up with a respectable scoreline. Last, but not least, back to back half centuries from dhoni will also make his supporters happy.

Posted by Harmony111 on (December 14, 2013, 9:36 GMT)


So you are once again playing the game of stats even when you know fully well that you are poor at number crunching? Will you tell me how many did Steyn go for vs India when Sachin scored his 200 in Gwalior? I think it was 10 overs for 89 runs. This might be the most expensive bowling figure ever if our parameter is Great Bowlers.

As for the shortened tour, it again proves that someone had sinister designs. Someone irked India knowing that the tour will be shortened, India will not get practice matches & will certainly lose the initial matches due to lack of acclimatization. In 2010-11, India lost the 1st test at Newlands quite badly cos they were not prepared. By the 2nd test they were ready & they defeated SA at Durban. By the 3rd test they were so much better that SA barely managed to escape with a draw.

Why should the burden be on India to keep long standing agreements if the other side does not know how to treat old friends???

Posted by Vilander on (December 14, 2013, 9:17 GMT)

its going to be a 3 day game, but ind will win it. Ind will bat first and score big. Pak fans speak too much even when their team is not involved.

Posted by JustIPL on (December 14, 2013, 7:38 GMT)

Rain denied SA a chance to find some batsmen shining out of this tour game given india's bowling stocks. On the other hand SAF bowlers would have capatilised on the pressure on indian batting from odi series and made themselves prominent. On the other hand the game was only chance of practice before the grueling series against the no1 team but you cannot design your destiny 100%. Indian board in a bit to teach Lorgat a lesson has axed their own legs. SA gave them the tour game on this ground and BCCI did not analyse the impact. SA already have returned the humiliation to Ind and more to come in tests.

Posted by   on (December 14, 2013, 7:03 GMT)

welcome to southafrica :D

Posted by Arrow011 on (December 14, 2013, 4:43 GMT)

Team for 1st test = Dhawan, Vijay (everybody knows he will fail but he will be selected for scoring well in India), Pujara, Kohli, Rohit (minnow basher in home conditions), Dhoni, Ashwin, Jadeja (a must for tests, as he is very good spinner), Bhuvi, Zaheer & Shami

Posted by   on (December 14, 2013, 4:22 GMT)

Well if CSA has done it intentionally I will say they are super smart and good forecasters of weather. And not a bad strategy to deny India match practice and even being an Indian I see nothing wrong with it. All countries use such tactics nowadays. When visiting teams expect pace and bounce it is a flat surface and when they expect dustbowls it is again a flat road.

The important thing for India that while pitches will pose a challenge the application in ODIs was woeful from most batsmen. Less said about bowling the better.. So there is huge scope for improvement..

India will play 6 batters-1 wk-4 bowlers (3 pacers and 1 spinner) and that is how they should go.

Spinner whosoever he is can't be just a blocking option. If he starts getting wickets then it makes lot easier for pacers !!

Posted by   on (December 14, 2013, 4:16 GMT)

Suggesting Rahane as an opener is just ridiculous. He's not a test opener, he may bat high up the order in first class cricket but that doesn't make him an opener. Vijay is actually an opener. Just because you may think it's a good idea doesn't make it so. There's no point in just tinkering with the team, it's key to maintain team chemistry and especially when your overseas record is patchy. When a batsman is scoring runs, back him. Back your team. The same notions applied to Vijay can be applied to all the batsmen. Once they become inconsistent, then it's fair to call for their heads. As for 4 pace bowlers, I don't think it's a good idea. Sure the conditions may suit the call to play 4 fast bowlers, but remember, India went in with 4 fast bowlers at the WACA, we got hammered, we were slow on overrates and not to mention, we lost a batsman in Ashwin (let's face it, he bats better overseas than our batsmen). Last thing we need is for Dhoni to possibly miss a test match.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (December 14, 2013, 3:40 GMT)

@ viru-319-219 claims "These are the same batsmen who hit Steyn in IPL."

As Steyn had the2nd lowest economy rate in the last IPL, just a fraction of a run higher then Narine, it would be more correct to say that these are the batsmen who did NOT hit Steyn in the IPL!

Posted by Greatest_Game on (December 14, 2013, 3:35 GMT)

@ Abhay Mogal "... this is South Africa's doing... picking a location for a practice where they knew it was going to rain... No Practice for the visiting team…"

India would have had a lot more [practice if they ad kept to a five year agreement and played a full tour. India chose to cut this down to a mini tour - not South Africa. SA wanted a full tour. India cut it.

You give a lot of credit to the CSA, believing that it can predict well in advance exactly which ground is going to get rain. This match was scheduled months ago - how did CSA know that there would be completely unseasonal rains? If they knew that, they would have know that the BCCI was not going to keep it's long standing tour agreements.

Posted by sams235 on (December 14, 2013, 2:51 GMT)

I am prediction 2-0 sweep for SA. Indian team needs this so they will come to senses about their performance on somewhat green pitches.

Posted by Lion83 on (December 14, 2013, 2:04 GMT)

The test match will need only 3 days dont worry about whether

Posted by   on (December 13, 2013, 22:43 GMT)

i can see the press conference coming after the test match where dohni will moan about the paractice game being washed out and how they didnt have time to adjust to the conditions

Posted by ravirrs on (December 13, 2013, 21:48 GMT)

I think Ashwin will not have much of impact in J'borg . However, Durban would suit his bowling as there will be turn and bounce for offer. My IND XI for first test would be -- 1 Rohit, 2) Dhawan, 3) Pujara, 4) Virat, 5) Rahane/Rayudu, 6) MSD, 7) Jadeja ( only fact that there are Right handers inopponent team). 8)Bhuvi, 9) Shami,10) Zaheer, 11) Yadav /Ishant

Posted by sixesandfours on (December 13, 2013, 19:32 GMT)

@Cherrywood - you rightly said No Spinner can survive in SA as SA practiced very well for Saeed Ajmal bowling. Its very right for india keeping the 4 pacersin their first test lineup. I wish India think caps should make Dhani coming for Sachin's place of batting at 4 and keep Jadeja in the team since SA lineup has lots of right handers. 1. Dhawan 2.Vijay 3.Pujara 4.Dhoni 5. Kohli 6. Rohit 7. Jadeja 8. Zaheer 9. Shami 10. Ishant 11. Yadav. Best wishes to India.

Posted by CherryWood_Champion on (December 13, 2013, 19:11 GMT)

Totally agree with Madan Shivkumar. We should have brought Rishi Dhawan and Ishwar Panday who performed very well in SA coming in for India-A series.

Anyways Here would be my ideal Test X1 1) Dhawan 2)Rahane 3) Pujara 4)Kohli 5)Rohit 6) Rayudu 7)MSD 8)Bhuvi 9)Zaheer 10) Ishant 11) Umesh

But with Chennai Super Kings captain as the Indian team captain and Srinivasan as the BCCI head ... I know for sure there will be 2 changes from my ideal team. --- Vijay will be in place of Rahane/Rayudu .... they will persist with him until he fails in all the overseas test matches, comes back to home and scores heavy on flat tracks so that he can keep his place in the team.

Oh how I wish Vijay proves me wrong.

Another one will be Ashwin in place of Rayudu/Bhuvi .... this is going to backfire big time for India as he will be belted all over the place. No place for a spinner in SA conditions. Better to utilize part timers like Rohit/Kohli and have another pace bowling option.

Posted by fguy on (December 13, 2013, 18:55 GMT)

@Suhas Joshi i think its deliberately & smartly been planned by CSA that way so as to deny any match practice

@Cricket_Guru i doubt its "half-hearted Steyn". he's a professional & if you see the matches they all try very hard. if he was "half-hearted" then owners/managment would see that & drop him immediately.

Posted by holistics88 on (December 13, 2013, 18:49 GMT)

Well, its high time that we win a test match let alone a series after our successive whitewashes in England and Australia.

Posted by Cricket_Guru on (December 13, 2013, 18:31 GMT)

@ viru-319-219: "These are the same batsmen who hit Steyn in IPL." Ha Ha Ha. Mate, you do realize this is test cricket right. Playing T20 cricket on the featherbeds of India and facing a half-hearted Steyn is one thing. Playing test cricket on spicy pitches against the best pace bowling attack in the work is another ballgame altogether. This will be a stern test of skill, temperament and technique for Dhawan, Kohli and Rohit. Hopefully, they won't get found out!

Posted by viru-319-219 on (December 13, 2013, 18:08 GMT)

@ IndCricFan2013 ....... This is not club cricket to play 5 bowlers to show courage. It is cricket being played at highest level and decision making is based on logic rather than emotions or other funny talk. Indian batsmen did not adjust to conditions yet and hence they require extra batsman and India never played with 5 bowlers outside sub continent ( you should know this if you are Indian). Our batting order always had 7 batsmen Sehwag,Gambhir,Dravid,sachin,Ganguly,Laxman,Dhoni. So please get into reality and stop making such comments like are they afraid of Steyn. These are the same batsmen who hit Steyn in IPL. & batsmen is what India always had on overseas tours and that is what it should be

Posted by   on (December 13, 2013, 17:50 GMT)

absolutely agree with the need for a fast bowling all rounder !! rishi dhawan absolutely revels on pacy wickets like dharamsala and its surprising why Indian selectors never even had him in mind for this tour... hope he gets picked at least for the NZ series... he can really make a good test all rounder overseas... we can then have a toss up between jadeja and dhawan as and when the pitch dictates ... rahane should then replace vijay at the top ! honestly I don't think vijay has the technique to survive overseas... he might have bashed a few cameos in the IPL and CLT20 in SA but that doesn't remotely come close to test matches...

Posted by viru-319-219 on (December 13, 2013, 17:29 GMT)

Great to hear NO JADEJA .... India doesn't really need him in SA conditions. We should have groomed Rishi Dhawan for away tours in absence of Irfan as his heigt would have been a added advantage. His batting for sure would be better than always struggling Jadeja as he started his career as an opening batsman. Well but this is what should have been and with the players at disposal for Dhoni, Rahane for sure will be in the team and I expect following XI for 1st test .... 1)Vijay 2) Dhawan 3) Pujara 4)Kohli 5) Rohit 6) Rahane 7) Dhoni 8) Ashwin 9) Zaheer 10) Shami 11)Ishant ..... Dhoni would have liked an extra seamer who can bat a bit but team has no player who is capable of that and thats where India need some one like Irfan or Dhawan overseas. Bowling attack looks balanced and there is variety with Zaheer being a swing bowler, Shami a seam bowler and Ishant capable of getting extra bounce. Batting department looks very good on paper and these guys are capable of applying themselves :)

Posted by   on (December 13, 2013, 17:21 GMT)

India will need more of these (rains) in the coming days if they are to avoid a whitewash in the test matches ahead.

Posted by holistics88 on (December 13, 2013, 17:12 GMT)

Forget about the batting... the problem will be taking 20 wickets.

Posted by Arrow011 on (December 13, 2013, 16:51 GMT)

Team for 1st test = Dhawan, Vijay (everybody knows he will fail but he will be selected for scoring well in India), Pujara, Kohli, Rohit (minnow basher in home conditions), Dhoni, Ashwin, Jadeja (a must for tests, as he is very good spinner), Bhuvi, Zaheer & Shami

Posted by   on (December 13, 2013, 16:38 GMT)

it is ununderstandable why the match was scheduled at a location havind 800 mm rains in last 8 days and the ground staff was uncertain making the ground in playable state.the entry into 1 st test match without adequate match practice for many indian test players will make it team india tough proposition.any way there is no point incomplaining for the situation not under control.wishing team india better luck and good outing for young indian players for the test match.

Posted by IndCricFan2013 on (December 13, 2013, 16:30 GMT)

So, India going in with 7.5 batsman and 3.5 bowler, with Ashwin as the all rounder and Dhoni as full batsman? Would that mean India want to score 500 runs in one innings and draw the match, since 3.5 bowlers can not pick 20 wickets? Shows no confident on batsman or feeling scared like Steyn is saying..?

Posted by tanstell87 on (December 13, 2013, 16:07 GMT)

@madan - Rahane no way...Dhoni has other plans...he will play his favorite player Jadeja who has scored triple century twice in Ranji trophy he will score more than 20 in 1st test...Rahane wont play - he will be replaced by Ashwin at 6 as he cant pick wickets as a bowler so its Ashwin at 6 , Dhoni at 7 & Jadeja at 8 in 1st test...

Posted by   on (December 13, 2013, 15:57 GMT)

Thats why you play more practice matches... but the boards are busy fighting between themselves ... this is South Africa's doing... picking a location for a practice where they knew it was going to rain... No Practice for the visiting team...

Posted by   on (December 13, 2013, 15:34 GMT)

Not very ideal for India to have the practice game ruined, but can't help... I guess it will be wise to play rahane atleast for the first test... Jadeja doesn't have the technique to bat well at no.6 or 7 against the rampaging SA quicks and he will not be of great help with the ball either on these tracks... So it will be better if India goes with their good old 7+4 policy

Posted by Nuxxy on (December 13, 2013, 15:28 GMT)

And today, Port Elizabeth in sunny and hot. Schedule cricket here and there will be rain instantly! Let's see what happens during the T20.

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Tour Results
South Africa v India at Durban - Dec 26-30, 2013
South Africa won by 10 wickets
South Africa v India at Johannesburg - Dec 18-22, 2013
Match drawn
SAf Invit XI v Indians at Benoni - Dec 13-14, 2013
Match abandoned without a ball bowled
South Africa v India at Centurion - Dec 11, 2013
No result
South Africa v India at Durban - Dec 8, 2013
South Africa won by 134 runs
More results »
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